Apiece Apart Woman: Mamie Gummer

Apiece Apart Woman Mamie Gummer

Actress Mamie Gummer is the byproduct of a uniquely creative upbringing — her mother is Meryl Streep and her father is the sculptor Don Gummer — yet Mamie's perspective and approach to daily balance and living with purpose is refreshingly grounded. This fall, as she prepared to move from her current Chelsea apartment to Los Angeles, we spoke with her about how she stays present, where she seeks solace, and the themes at the forefront of her 30s.
Photos by Andrea Gentl, styling by Monique Wool, story by Leigh Patterson

Apiece Apart Woman Mamie Gummer

Can you share more about your upbringing and background? What was your childhood like, and how was creativity and self-expression cultivated in your adolescence?
Creativity of any kind was always encouraged and nurtured from a very young age. I suppose that is not entirely surprising given the fact that our parents are artists. We moved around a fair amount, but wherever we were we would find and designate some elevated area of the house or yard as "the stage." There were plenty of take-your-kid-to-work days where we'd play dress-up in a hair and makeup trailer or make sculptures and drawings in my dad's studio. As we got older and the nexus of our lives started shifting out of the home and into the halls of school, our interests carried over rather seamlessly. I did a lot of plays and spent quite a lot of moody broody hours in the darkroom just like any teenager. And then that all extended into college. I think for a lot of kids those interests naturally have to fall back as more "real" careers with guaranteed mobility take precedence, but for us art was a viable professional option as we'd observed two people who had been able to pull it off with a fair amount of success. Of course at that age I had zero concept of just how difficult it would be...I just wanted to continue to do what I loved doing and thought, if they can, I can. 

Apiece Apart Woman Mamie Gummer

The nature of acting has an element of impermanence, with every job being temporary  — where do you find a sense of stability? What brings you solace?
Well, it's not always easy, especially as the allure of the work lies in its immediacy. Never more than when I'm on stage do I feel wholly present in my life. Wholly present: I read somewhere that living in the past is depression and living in the future is anxiety. In the rare instances when I'm working and reality as I know it is suspended and I've completely forgotten myself and all that matters is only what was just said or done...it's extraordinary. But then you take that sensation and sit it down next to what can be weeks, months of "time off" — and those fleeting moments that were so thrilling now gape so wide they threaten to actually consume you whole. So, I find balance by filling those moments as best I can: lots of podcasts, walks, taking care of friendships. I seem to be packing and unpacking a lot? Volunteering, doing laundry. Life stuff. Keeping busy. 
 
What themes or questions have been most emergent for you in your 30s?
All of them? I think it's possible I didn't bother with the questions in my 20s. I didn't have to. But now, especially as it relates to thinking about the future and having kids, I'm contending with all manners of mortality issues. Compounded by events that I'm suddenly paying far more attention to playing out on the world stage — the problems of climate change, AI, autism, the perils of the internet (particularly how destructive the proliferation of pornography online has been on intimacy)...you name it, I'm probably more than a little worried about it. However, I was Googling the other day how to navigate from the sun and stars... and somehow having that basic knowledge immediately alleviated my anxiety. 
 

Apiece Apart Woman Mamie Gummer

You’ve been a vocal advocate for gender equality — can you share more about the organizations and issues that are at the front of your focus? 
It seems that in the wake of November 6th, issues of equal pay have receded from the spotlight in lieu of just — I don't know — the survival of our species and not descending into outright war. But, yes: gender parity has been and will always be a worthy and close cause to me. I will say before the election I was focused more internationally; I was trying to combat things like the horrendous practice of human trafficking. But it became clear that we are far from out of the woods here at home and I've been inclined lately toward more local causes. I've been trying to help and protect and feed those that are without in my own community. It feels a little like that instruction on the airplane, "first secure your mask before assisting others." 
 
What are some non-negotiables for you in maintaining a sense of “balance” or “wellness” (however you define these words...)
Hot water, autonomy, a decent advocate, and some amout of outdoor space. 

What’s are some current curiosities of yours?
Gardening, self-defense, manual transmission. 

Apiece Apart Woman Mamie Gummer


In what ways have you become the woman you always wanted to be? In what ways do you surprise yourself? 
I'm surprised by how and when I encounter joy and how markedly different a sensation it is than what I'd call "fun." That's been oddly instructive. 

What’s something you wish you knew how to do or that you’re currently trying to learn more about?
I think I'd like to become a certified EMT who knows how to play the guitar. And I'd like to learn to speak Spanish. 
 
What are you reading right now? 
I am back and forth between this wonderful epic by Wallace Stegner called "An Angle of Repose" and "Love" by Jeanette Winterson.